There are countless of Mindanao Tourist Spots, and you’ll be amazed by how different they are from Luzon or Visayas. We’ll round up the 20 Best Towns and Cities that you must visit in Mindanao to add in your Philippines Bucket List.
Mindanao is the least traveled part of the Philippines; this is due to news on terrorist attacks, possible combats and kidnaps for ransom where tourists and missionaries are usually involved. Even Filipinos like me are a bit wary of this part of the country. However, we are mostly wrong.
The president of the Philippines has declared Martial Law in Mindanao, which makes it safer than other parts of the country. Much military personnel are deployed; security is everywhere. When traveling from a region to another, be sure always to bring your ID/Passport because when there are bus stops, the military will check your identification one by one.
Mindanao is the land of promise; you can do trail hikes on mountains, swim and surf on the islands, take a bathe on gorgeous falls or enchanted rivers, and encounter animals, notably the Philippine Eagle, up-close and personal.
There are six regions in Mindanao: Region 9 – Zamboanga, Region 10 – Northern Mindanao, Region 11 – Davao, Region 12 – SocCSkSarGen, and ARMM – Bangsamoro.
Region 9 – Zamboanga
If you are Spanish or know Spanish, you would enjoy conversing with the locals here as they speak Chavacano, a Spanish-based language in Asia. The best spot here is Sta. Cruz Island, the only beach in the Philippines with pink sand. You could also go to the majestic Merloquet Falls. Hang around the city proper at Paseo del Mar and Fort Pilar. Buy colorful textiles for souvenirs at Yakan Weaving Village.
Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte
Our National Hero, Jose Rizal, was exiled to this place for four years; if you want to see where he lived, go to Rizal Park and Shrine. You can also dive at Aliguay Island or get some vitamin sea at Dakak Resort. Visit also St. James Church and if you want to have fun, then go to Gloria’s Fantasyland.
Region 10 – Northern Mindanao
Cagayan de Oro City
When going to CDO, you must try white water rafting. Travel in Cagayan River on a raft and survive paddling through the rapids; there are beginner and advanced courses which surely you will have fun especially with friends. After this strenuous activity, spend the next day relaxing or maybe do more adrenaline rushing activities in Seven Seas Water Park or at Mapawa Nature Park. Enjoy also scenic views at Garden of Malasag Eco-Tourism Village or Eden’s Solace.
Though Camiguin is one province; you could tour this place in a day or two. This Isle Born of Fire has seven volcanoes; Mt. Vulcan erupted on 1871 resulting to the Sunken Cemetery and Old Spanish Church Ruins. You can trek at Mt. Hibok-Hibok and see at Tuasan Falls. Don’t forget to check out the sunset at White Island.
Iligan City is the “City of Majestic Waterfalls,” how many falls are there? 24, yes, it’s twenty-four and you can waterfall-hop. However, in case you want a few here’s my top 5: Maria Christina Falls (the most popular one not only because it’s grandeur, but it’s a source of electricity in Mindanao), Tinago Falls, Limunsudan Falls, Mimbalut Falls, Dodiongan Falls.
Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon
For adventurers out there; go to Dahilayan Adventure Park and zipline or sky jump. You can also trek at Mount Kitanglad or Mount Ma-agnaw, or just hang-out near Alalum Falls. This place is also where Del Monte Pineapple Plantation is; you could sneak a peek or buy some pineapples.
Valencia City, Bukidnon
Want to go somewhere peaceful? Relax at Lake Apo, a crater lake at Barangay Guinoyoran. You could also hike to Mount Kalatungan, Mount Dulang-Dulang, or Musuan Peak.
Region 11 – Davao
Davao City is the capital of Mindanao; this is also where our current president, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte served as mayor for many years, right now the first lady, her daughter is serving as Mayor. You hike and camp at Mt. Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines. You could also check out the Philippine Eagle Center or Crocodile Park where they serve Crocodile Ice Cream. You could also hang out at People’s Park. Also, they have Kadayawan Festival (article 9) here on the 3rd week of August, so it adds more excitement if you visit near that date.
Cateel, Davao Oriental
Aliwagwag Falls is the main attraction in this place, with 84 tiers; it seems endless but seems like a stairway to heaven. Walk from edge to edge at Maglahus Hanging Bridge and relax at Banahaw Beach Resort or San Antonio-Baybay Long Beach.
Island Garden City of Samal
IGCOS is the largest resort city in the country, so expect many beaches, marine life, and clear waters. You could check it at Pearl Farm Beach Resort that is owned by Ms. Universe 1973 Margie Moran. Explore Mount Putting Bato, Hagimit Falls or visit Batman’s friends at Monfort Bat Cave. Check out beaches also at Talikud Island.
Want to experience flying? Try booking at Mindanao Saga Flying Club, and you can glide above the skies of Mati. You can check out also islands like Sleeping Dinosaur Island, Waniban Island, or Pujada Island. Try also surfing at Dahican Beach.
Region 12 – Caraga
Tinuy-an Falls is the main attraction in the charming city, it’s gorgeous, and you won’t regret seeing this. While in Bislig, you can also go to Hagonoy Island, Lawigan Beach, Togonan Cold Spring or Lake 77.
Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur
Want to see something like a fairy tale? Check out the Hinatuan Enchanted River that flows to the Philippines Sea. It is so bright and so blue you would see marine creatures without goggles. Hinatuan Bay is also a habitat of various species of turtles.
Siargao Island is the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, when you’re visiting here don’t pass the opportunity to learn how to surf at Cloud 9 area. Also, try diving at Sugba Lagoon and do tri-island hopping from Naked, Dako and Guyam Islands. Catch the sunrise at Mapungko-pungko beach.
Region 13 – SocCSkSarGen
Gumasa Beach is perhaps the Boracay of the South, untouched white and sandy with clear waters. Many beach resorts are here; be sure to stay in one. You can also snorkel at Kapatan-Lago Dive Spots. Be in awe of the Century Old Houses in this town. Fun fact, renowned boxer Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao has a private beach in this province.
Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
This first-class municipality’s main attraction is the Lake Sebu itself. Allah Valley is a UNESCO as a cultural landscape. Try seeing all Seven Falls of Lake Sebu and do that exciting Zipline Adventure.
T’boli, South Cotabato
Want to go somewhere serene? The hikes to these places may be time-consuming and a bit difficult for non-professional hikers, but the view and the aura are worth-it; Mount Melibengoy, Lake Holon and Maughan Lake.
Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao – Bangsamoro
Cotabato has the largest Mosque in the whole Philippines, the Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah or Grand Mosque. Also visit the Kutawato Cave, Tamontaka Church, and People’s Palace. You should also check out the Pink Mosque at Datu Saudi-Ampatuan, which is an hour ride from the city.
When we Filipinos talk about Basilan, we think of a terrorist group. However, ever since people started opening up to Basilan, we have learned that it’s a hidden paradise and that people are warm and friendly there. You can start your adventure at Bulingan Falls then Island hop Lampinigan Island to Malamawi Island.
If you want to check out one of the longest sandbars in the Philippines, go to Panampangan Island. You could also trek Mount Bongao. Visit islands like Sangasiapu Island, Saluag Island, or Sanguisiapo Island.
With this list alone, I bet you want to travel Mindanao? I, myself, want to book a ticket there immediately. The Land of Promise has many things to offer; mainly natural attractions. However, Mindanao also has diverse cultures as it is home to different tribes. There are about 18 tribal Filipino groups; I hope you meet one on your adventure there.
It’s easy to go to Mindanao because Davao has an international airport and most regions have at least one. Unlike the Visayas, Mindanao is a big island with a few small ones in the outer part so that you can travel by bus. People in the Philippines can also speak English well, so don’t be afraid of language barriers.
Come and visit these Mindanao Tourist Spots. We hope that at least you go to one out of 20 Best Towns/Cities you must visit in Mindanao within a year. Remember, it’s more fun in the Philippines!
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